Monday, May 19, 2014

Streetwise: poetry on demand

When it comes to street entertainers, what springs to mind for me are jugglers, mimes, and musicians. Never poetry.

Until, that is, I found myself in the midst of poets, typing away on small, manual typewriters, on the sidewalk of Overtoom in Amsterdam on King’s Day.

The Amsterdam Writers Guild was celebrating "the biggest street party of the year" by offering poems on demand, free, in English or Dutch, on the subject of your choice.

I stepped up and put in my order. A poem, in English, about Philadelphia.

The poet who took on the challenge had a bit of an advantage. His name is Cameron Kelly (wearing the gray tie), and he is from Pittsburgh. While about 300 miles lie between our two Pennsylvania cities, from the vantage point of Amsterdam, we were next-door neighbors.

So he thought for a minute and then began clacking away. The result, minutes later, was “Key to the City.”

It was the best deal of the day.

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